WB Zevitas asked that I write this month’s history moment. I dug into the archives to see what our lodge was doing at the first meeting in March of 1922. How cool would that be? The 472nd stated communication of Singleton Lodge #30. I couldn’t wait to see what I discovered! Maybe it was a Degree, maybe it was an interesting speaker, a special guest of honor.
It was like National Lampoon’s Vacation with the Wally World Moose out front: “The Stated Communication Scheduled for Thursday March 2nd, 1922, was called off due to repairs being made in the lodge room.”
Sometimes in history, mundanity rules the day.
Piecing together from other minutes there were concerns about the benches on the north side of the room and some other routine maintenance. It goes to show you the Temple Association is a thankless task.
Yet, 1922 was an interesting year for Singleton Lodge #30. The minutes of December 15, 1921 stated that the Worshipful Master Richard G. Fletcher had a “virile and truly Masonic platform” laid out for the year. It was an interesting year and I wanted to share some highlights of it:
- Sprucing up the Hall: Members of Friendship Chapter #17, Order of the Eastern Star wanted help to redecorate the lodge. The Lodge Created a fundraising committee to get a minimum commitment for each brother to donate at least $5 ($83.66 in today’s money) towards improvements to the hall. Chief among them was the purchase of a new piano so the lodge piano could be moved downstairs to the banquet hall. In the fall, the lesser lights of the lodge had to be fixed.
- 21st Anniversary of the Lodge: On May 4, 1922 the lodge held its 21st anniversary party. There was a special address by MW Ginn about the history of the Masonic & Eastern Star Home. In his remarks, Ginn made a reference to how nice the lodge looked. There were special flowers given to the members and each charter member present was called upon to “tell of the by-gone days when William R. Singleton Lodge” was in its infancy. Afterward the brothers had a giant birthday cake made for them by the ladies of the Eastern Star.
- The Worshipful Master was indicted in connection with the 1922 Knickerbocker Theater disaster. Located over in Adams Morgan at the site of the current Sun Trust the Knickerbocker Theater collapsed on January 28, 1922. A 28-hour storm had left a lot of snow on the roof. It collapsed and killed. Ninety-eight people had died and 133 were injured. The Coroner’s Jury filed indictments against nine people involved in the building, including the sitting Master Richard G. Fletcher who served as the Cement Foreman for the project. At a meeting of the lodge WB Fletcher turned the gavel over to WB J Giles, PM to speak to the indictment. After the address the lodge gave a vote of sympathy, a vote of confidence and an expression of hope “that he not be called upon to defend himself on the charge for which he had been indicted.” The Knickerbocker theater disaster, to the best of our knowledge, never resulted in a conviction of anyone as they could never figure out who was responsible.
- A Past Masters’ Association: March 16, 1922 saw Past Masters’ Association formed with James L. Giles serving as the first president, and George A. Smith as the first secretary.
- United Masonic Temple Fund: June 1922 saw WB Snavely of the United Masonic Temple fund come to the lodge to discuss the purchase of land for a new Masonic Temple. There were future conversations and at the October Grand Visit, 15 members of the lodge had subscribed $1,625($27,194.38 in today’s money) to support it.
- American University Hosts the Grand Visitation: Due to the size of the lodge and the size of the Grand Lodge the October 19, 1922 Grand Visitation was hosted in the “Hall of History” (Hurst Hall) at American University. It was quite the party! The Almas Shrine Glee Club came and sang. EC Snyder, US Marshal for the District of Columbia gave a special address, Br. Ralon played his violin while Br. Jackson sang. The lodge was addressed by Bishop Hamilton, a Past Grand Chaplain of The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and an honorary member of William R. Singleton Lodge #30 and Chancellor (President) of American University. Bishop Hamilton was establishing a lecture series at American on Masonry. Notes in the minutes report that there were American flags and bunting. After closing the lodge, they processed and sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” and in the lower hall the brothers feasted on pyramids of fruit and the Grand Lodge were given fruit baskets as parting gifts. The money spent on fruit was $144.20 or $2,413.19 in today’s money.
- Charlie Moy, a merchant whose Hong High Store was in China Town and George Y. Wen, Manager of the Eagle Restaurant in Penn Quarter both Applied on February 16, 1922. On April 20, 1922 they were both rejected after unanimously favorable reports. They reapplied in the fall and in December both were elected to membership in our lodge. This is interesting as most of us have a vision of Singleton Lodge #30 being a neighborhood lodge in Tenleytown. I don’t think any of us thought of it as having a Chinatown connection.
- The Gang Trial: In 1921 the Masters’ Association of the Grand Lodge (today’s Masters and Wardens Association) hosted a baseball game. Brother William H. Gang of Singleton Lodge #30 was in charge and there was a dispute over $220 ($3,681.70 in Today’s money). Charges were filed. The trial committee under the leadership of Junior Steward (and future Grand Master) Dean H. Stanley worked on this for several months. Br. Gang made restitution, but was convicted by the lodge on a vote of 32-1. The lodge considered various forms of punishment's and settled on a suspension until the following year. After the end of the trial the Master, the Chaplain and a brother named Hecker stressed that it was important that they communicate to Gang that they were there to help him.
- The Application of William E. Gore: Older members of the lodge will recognize the last name of Gore. I am unclear if this is our Worshipful Brother Fred’s uncle or father. But it would not be a year at Singleton Lodge without a reference to a Brother Gore.
In 100 years, may some future member of our Lodge look back on our records and think about how we acted and behaved as Masons.